|Publication number||US5963338 A|
|Application number||US 08/886,703|
|Publication date||Oct 5, 1999|
|Filing date||Jul 1, 1997|
|Priority date||Jul 19, 1995|
|Also published as||EP0755150A2, EP0755150A3|
|Publication number||08886703, 886703, US 5963338 A, US 5963338A, US-A-5963338, US5963338 A, US5963338A|
|Original Assignee||Nec Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (1), Classifications (18), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This is a Continuation of application Ser. No. 08/680,124, filed on Jul. 15, 1996 now abandoned.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for calibrating high-resolution multi-element sensors which are mounted in artificial satellites or the like for earth observation, or in facsimile machines or the like for detecting optical images, etc.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Multi-element sensing apparatuses mounted in facsimile machines, artificial satellites, etc. perform electric calibration at regular time intervals to keep track of the operational state of electric circuits throughout the equipment while detecting image signals. Multi-element sensing apparatuses of the prior art are designed to receive image signals when the subject being photographed is well lit, and to perform electric calibration while the subject being photographed is poorly lit.
Particularly, in the multi-element sensing apparatuses used for the artificial satellites, electric calibration signals having a predetermined level are applied to a CCD part in the sensing apparatuses in an observation-off time and the resultant calibration output signals are transmitted to an earth station as the same as observation output signals (image signals). In the earth station, the observation output signals are calibrated using the resultant calibration output signals. FIG. 7 schematically shows such image signals in time sequence, including outputted image signals 16, outputted electric calibration signals 18, and outputted zero (or offset)-level signals 17. As illustrated therein, all the image signals 16, the electric calibration signals 18 and the zero (or offset)-level signals 17 are outputted to the same-numbered pixels.
With conventional multi-element sensing apparatuses of this type, electric calibration is performed only when the subject being photographed is placed under low light conditions, since electric calibration for the subject being photographed in lit places results in overlapping of image signals on electric calibration signals. Therefore, some limits are imposed on the timing of the performance of electric calibration, resulting in the drawback of preventing calibration measurements whenever necessary. Further, according to the conventional apparatuses, it is impossible to realize accurate and continuous calibration when a condition such as temperature is changed during an observation time.
To improve such conventional apparatus, a technique applying a particular register having additional stages for calibration sequences is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,317,423. However, this technique requires a special sensing device having such additional stages which is disadvantageous with respect to circuit configuration and cost.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for subjecting multi-element sensors to electric calibration at all time, which never requires a special circuit configuration, i.e., an additional register stages.
FIG. 1 is a circuit diagram illustrative of an embodiment of a multi-element sensor-calibrating apparatus according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrative of a method for calibrating multi-element sensors according to the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a timing waveform chart of the transfer gate and the input drain;
FIG. 4 is a chart of waveform of output from the multi-element sensing apparatus when the temperature and other parameters are stable;
FIG. 5 is a chart of waveform of output from the multi-element sensing apparatus when outputted image signals have been changed due to change in the temperature and other parameters,
FIG. 6 is a view of waveform of outputted image signals after compensation for changes due to the temperature and others; and
FIGS. 7 is a view illustrative of image signals, calibration signals and offset level signals in time sequence, from a multi-element sensing apparatus of the prior art.
In order to accomplish the above object, the method of calibrating multi-element sensors according to the present invention comprises: first outputting image signals which have been subjected to photoelectric conversion to a register for temporary storage, during which time an input drain is OFF; outputting the image signals to an amplifier circuit through ON/OFF operations of the register after the image signals have been outputted to the register; inputting electric calibration signals through ON/OFF control of the input drain while the image signals are being outputted to the amplifier circuit from the register when the transfer gate is OFF; and adjusting timing of respective driving pulses through a CDD-driving circuit so that zero-level signals and the electric calibration signals are outputted after the image signals. According to the present invention, a change in the sensitivity of the image signals is detected and calibrated in an accurate and continuous manner, with reference to the zero-level signals and the electric calibration signals.
An apparatus for use in the method comprises:
a photoreceptor section composed of an array of a plurality of photosensors; a CCD register for temporarily storing image signals which have been subjected to photoelectric conversion in the photoreceptor section; a transfer gate for ON/OFF connection of charge from the photoreceptor section to the register; an input drain provided at one end of the register for inputting electric calibration signals to the register; an amplifier circuit for amplifying weak signals; a multiplexer circuit for synthesizing signals from a plurality of amplifier circuits of the same type as the aforementioned amplifier circuit; an A/D conversion circuit for converting signals inputted through the multiplexer circuit into digital signals; a memory circuit for storing the digital signals; a pulse-generating circuit connected to the A/D conversion circuit; a CCD-driving circuit connected to the pulse-generating circuit, capable of adjusting timing of respective driving pulses so that zero-level signals and the electric calibration signals are outputted after the image signals; and a circuit for generating the electric calibration signals which are outputted via the register.
When image signals are being inputted to the register, the input drain is normally placed in the OFF position to prevent electric calibration signals from entering the register via the input drain. On the other hand, in order to input electric calibration signals to the register, the calibration signals are inputted when the input drain, which undergoes repeated ON/OFF operations as illustrated in FIG. 3, is ON. During this period of time, the transfer gate is placed in the OFF position to ensure that no image signals enter the register through the transfer gate.
According to the present invention, one lineful of output from the register includes the image signals and the zero (or offset)-level signals and the electric calibration signals at an even level, as illustrated in FIG. 4.
The present invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. In FIG. 1 showing an embodiment of a multi-element sensor-calibrating apparatus according to the present invention, the embodiment comprises a photoreceptor section 1 composed of a plurality of photosensors, "n" photosensors numbered from "i" to "n" in the case shown here, transfer gates 2 and 3 arranged along the photoreceptor section 1, CCD registers 4 and 5 placed opposite to the photoreceptor section 1 across the transfer gates 2 and 3, and input drains 6 and 7 provided at one end of each registers. In FIG. 1, the two sets, which include the transfer gate 2, the register 4 and the input drain 6, and the transfer gate 3, the register 5 and the input drain 7, are arranged for odd-numbered photosensors and even-numbered photosensors in the photoreceptor section 1, respectively. There is also provided a CCD-driving circuit 13 which generates CCD-driving pulses for activating the transfer gates 2 and 3, and the registers 4 and 5.
With the configuration illustrated in FIG. 1, for example, signals which have undergone photoelectric conversion and been stored in the photoreceptor section 1 are transferred to the register 4 while the transfer gate 2 is ON, and are successively transferred to an amplifier circuit 8 in response to transfer clock signals from the CCD-driving circuit 13 after the transfer gate 2 has been switched to the OFF position. After several stages of signals have been transferred, the input drain 6 is switched from the OFF (low-level) state to ON/OFF control, and this triggers inputting of electric calibration signals through the input drain 6 which are then transferred to the amplifier circuit 8 successively in response to transfer clock signals. The foregoing operation also applies to the combination of the transfer gate 3, the register 5, the input drain 7 and the amplifier circuit 9.
The amplifier circuits 8 and 9 amplify the weak signals. The amplified signals of the odd-numbered and even-numbered photosensors delivered from the amplifier circuits 8 and 9 are then synthesized in a multiplexer circuit 10 and sent to an A/D conversion circuit 11 which converts the inputted synthesized signals into digital signals. The digital signals are stored in a memory circuit 12. In addition, a pulse-generating circuit 15 generates clocks for the A/D conversion circuit 12. Also provided is an electric calibration signal-generating circuit 14 which is connected to the input drains 6 and 7.
FIG. 3 illustrates timing waveforms of the transfer gate and the input drain according to the present invention.
When the transfer gate is ON (at the high level), the input drain is OFF (at the low level), and after the transfer gate has been switched to the OFF (low-level) state, and a plurality of stages of clock signals have been transferred, the input drain is ON/OFF controlled to input electric calibration signals to the register.
FIG. 4 illustrates the outputted state of image signals and electric calibration signals in time sequence. The first half of the output consists of image signals of respective photosensors "i" through "n", and after the signals have been outputted, several stages of zero (offset)-level image signals are outputted, after which the electric calibration signals are outputted.
Output levels of the respective photoreceptor sections are plotted along the axis of ordinates. The image signals are outputted at various levels depending on the subject being photographed, whereas the electric calibration signals are inputted through the input drain at an even level, and the zero (offset)-level signals are also at an offset level, since neither image signals nor electric calibration signals are inputted during that time.
Even in cases where fluctuations of the image signals are caused by change in the temperature and other parameters of the CCD, the circuit sections, etc., as shown in FIG. 5, setting of the zero level 17 and the level of the outputted electric calibration signals 18 as two reference levels allow detection of the difference between the zero (or offset) level and the gain of the entire multi-element sensing apparatus, and thus one lineful of image signals may be easily corrected as shown in FIG. 6.
In the foregoing explanation, the electric calibration signals according to the present invention are at a fixed level, nevertheless, the present invention may be applied to various levels as well.
As described above, according to the present invention, since the design is such that electric calibration signals are inputted to the register through the input drain while the transfer gate is OFF, and image signals are inputted to the register while the transfer gate is ON, simultaneous output of the image signals, the electric calibration signals and the zero (offset) level signals allows calibration of the image signals whenever necessary, even when the outputted image signals fluctuate due to changes in the temperature and other parameters.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US5317423 *||Dec 30, 1992||May 31, 1994||Nec Corporation||Image sensing apparatus using calibration sequences stored in extended portions of shift registers|
|US5337163 *||Nov 5, 1991||Aug 9, 1994||Sony Corporation||Linear image sensor with varied electric charge storage time|
|US5473660 *||Jun 1, 1994||Dec 5, 1995||U.S. Philips Corporation||Image sensing device|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US6259087 *||Nov 10, 1998||Jul 10, 2001||Nec Corporation||Calibration apparatus for multi-element sensor|
|U.S. Classification||358/406, 358/482, 348/E05.081|
|International Classification||H04N1/028, H04N5/217, H04N5/372, H04N5/365, H04N5/361|
|Cooperative Classification||H04N5/37213, H04N5/3651, H04N5/372, H04N5/361, H04N5/3653|
|European Classification||H04N5/361, H04N5/372, H04N5/365A1, H04N5/365A, H04N3/15F|
|Apr 23, 2003||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Oct 6, 2003||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Dec 2, 2003||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20031005